The Werkshop Recovers Two Rare Treasures Ready for Restoration Perfection!
Lake Bluff, IL, June 2, 2010. An incredible discovery of two of the rarest BMWs ever produced: a 1938 BMW 327 Coupe and 1958 BMW 503 Cabriolet. The two beauties – actual “barn finds” – were recently recovered after more than 35 years of storage in out-barns of a European car repair facility located in New Albany, Ohio.
“I remembered these cars from my childhood when I fell in love with their gorgeous lines,” said the cars’ last owner, Joseph Tatrai. “When the opportunity to purchase them arose, I couldn’t resist, especially knowing what a great investment they would be.” Tatrai originally purchased the BMW 327 back in 1974 from a WWII bomber pilot in Mansfield, Ohio who had stored it for several years in his own barn alongside his airplane. Then in 1980, he acquired and imported the 503 from a seller in Belgium. His intention was always to restore the pair but he simply never found the time to complete the projects. “After a while you become very emotionally attached to amazing cars like these but at some point, you need to let someone else take on the challenge.”
The WerkShop, one of the top three BMW restoration shops in the world, learned of the two, rare vintage models when a customer prospect interested in purchasing the cars from Tatrai and having them restored called to inquire about the process. But when he wasn’t able to strike a deal with the owner, he suggested owners Don Dethlefsen and Michael Marijanovic look into them. The WerkShop team immediately drove to Ohio to meet with Tatrai.
“Our first impression upon seeing them inside the old barn was truly shock and awe,” said Marijanovic. “Dusty, dirty and covered in debris, their beauty still amazed us and most remarkable…the fact they were so intact after so many years.”
After contacting the registrars for each model to research and verify their authenticity, the decision to purchase the unique pair was easy. The WerkShop is regularly commissioned by customers to seek out rare BMWs such as these to undergo complete restorations and these cars fit the bill for everything the shop looks for in a candidate – a shell in good condition, no body damage, no rust impacting the structural integrity, and completeness of parts. Having comprehensive parts is especially important with models as rare as the 327 and 503. This 1938 BMW 327 is one of only 179 Coupes ever produced and the 1958 BMW 503 is one of just 139 Cabriolets produced.
The discovery of these cars ignites passion in the heart of vintage collectors as a true testament to the fact that barn finds do still exist, though few and far between.
The two cars have since been transported to The WerkShop’s restoration annex in Lake Bluff, Illinois and are now waiting to be matched with the right owners. “I’m so glad to know they will soon be restored to their past glory,” said Tatrai. “You see, these cars are immortal. We are simply their caretakers for a period in time.”